Man dies in accident at Milner Landfill

Longtime employee remembered as smart, caring, irreplaceable

— A 51-year-old Steamboat Springs man died Tuesday afternoon at the Twin Landfill in Milner after a bulldozer attachment fell on top of him.

Douglas Bell was the landfill's general manager and a 17-year employee of Twin Landfill.

Emergency personnel were called to the landfill shortly before 1 p.m. for a report of a man caught under a piece of machinery.

Les Liman, owner of Twin Landfill, said Bell was working on a D8R Caterpillar bulldozer at the time of the incident. Bell was reinstalling the "ripper assembly," which is an attachment on the back of the bulldozer that is used to loosen soil. The attachment fell on Bell, Liman said.

Routt County Sheriff's Office Investigator Mike Curzon said the incident remains under investigation, but foul play is not suspected.

"It appears to be totally an industrial accident," he said.

Routt County Deputy Coroner Mitch Locke said Bell died from a head injury. Locke said there are no plans for an autopsy.

Bell is survived by his wife, Leslie, and two adult children. Bell's family could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Liman said Bell was a smart man who understood every aspect of landfill construction and operations.

"We did all our own construction here, and Doug ran that," Liman said. "I'm devastated by this."

Liman said Bell's knowledge of landfill construction was unmatched.

"He had to wear a lot of different hats and he did it with grace and skill," Liman said, adding that Bell worked with a variety of people ranging from customers to engineers.

"I think the best thing was when he would call the engineers and tell them they were wrong," Liman said.

Dave Epstein, a manager at the landfill, said Bell was teaching him how to run the operation.

"It was a tragic accident," Epstein said.

Liman has operated the landfill since 1979. He said there has never been a fatality or "real serious accident."

Liman said the landfill would close on a to-be-determined day as a memorial to Bell.

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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